House Speaker-elect Mike Johnson has led a campaign to keep former President Donald Trump in the White House after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
On January 5, 2021, the day before the violent riot at the US Capitol, Mr. Johnson met with other Republicans behind closed doors to discuss what Congress should do the next day.
While Johnson was a junior member of the caucus at this stage, he nevertheless spoke in favor of the idea that the GOP should support Mr. Trump and oppose counting electoral votes from a number of key states won by Biden.
“I have prayed for each of you individually”
“This is a very important decision. All of us have prayed for God's discernment. I know I've prayed for each of you individually,” Mr Johnson said at the time, according to reports Politico.
He then argued that they should join him in voting against the certification of the results.
After the November 3, 2020 election, Mr. Johnson led the legal effort to keep Trump in office. Even as Mr. Trump's myriad legal challenges failed, Johnson plowed ahead.
Mr. Johnson announced that he would support a Texas lawsuit against four states that are trying to overturn their results on Dec. 8, 2020. The Louisiana Republican said he would support the effort with a brief signed by other members of Congress.
During that time, Mr. Johnson spoke frequently to Mr. Trump.
In the House meeting on January 5, 2021, representatives Chip Roy and Don Bacon criticized Mr. Johnson's plan, arguing that it would lead to a constitutional crisis.
“Let's not turn the last bulwark of freedom we have left on its head with a bit of populist rage for political expediency,” Mr Roy said at the time, according to Politico.
Mr Roy and Mr Bacon both voted for Mr Johnson when he became speaker on Wednesday 25 October.
Calling on Donald Trump: ‘Stay strong and keep fighting, sir!'
Donald Trump endorses Mike Johnson for Speaker of the House
On the day most of the media called the election for Mr. Biden, November 7, 2020, Mr. Johnson he tweeted that he had “just called” Mr Trump to say “Stay strong and keep fighting sir! The nation depends on your determination. We must exhaust every available legal means to restore Americans' confidence in the fairness of our election system.”
On November 9, 2020, Mr. Johnson added on the social media platform that Mr. Trump called him the night before.
“I was heartened to hear his continued determination to ensure that every LEGAL vote is properly counted and that all cases of fraud and illegality are investigated and prosecuted. It is worth fighting for fair elections!” He wrote.
Mr. Johnson appeared at Moon Griffon Show on Nov. 9, 2020, and talked about his call with Mr. Trump, saying they were ready to go to the US Supreme Court. He added that Mr. Trump had said he was encouraged by Justice Samuel Alito ordering Pennsylvania to split absentee ballots that arrived late if they were found to be invalid.
“That's a good sign,” Mr. Johnson told the Lafayette host. “I think there are at least five judges on the court who will do the right thing.”
At the time, Mr. Johnson said at least 10 lawsuits would be filed, adding that he hoped one of the filings would appear in a “missile arsenal” that would lead to the high court.
Opinions on Election Fraud Shaped by the 1996 Senate Race
He said his views on voter fraud were shaped by the 1996 Senate race between Republican Woody Jenkins and Democrat Mary Landrieu.
“I was a young law student at the time, but I was carrying everybody's briefcases trying to help,” he said, arguing that there was evidence of fraud but that Democrats “buried it all.”
On November 17, Mr. Johnson told KEEL News in Shreveport that the election is not over.
“I'm not giving anything away,” he told the radio station. “I talked to the president in the last few days and he's still dealing with it.”
Mr. Johnson also cited a number of claims that some changes to the laws governing elections in key states were unconstitutional, and then filed debunked claims that voting machines had been hacked.
“The claim about these voting machines, some of which are rigged with the software by Dominion — look, there's a lot of merit to that,” he said.
The airing of these allegations led Fox News to pay Dominion nearly $800 million in a settlement in their defamation lawsuit.
Promoting strange theories
He also shared the curious theory that “the software system used across the country is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.”
Trump's lawyer, Sidney Powell, who advanced the same claim about Chavez, who died in 2013, pleaded guilty earlier this month to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference in the performance of election duties.
Mr. Trump he tweeted on December 9, 2020: “We will be INTERVING in the Texas case (plus several other states). That's the big one. Our country needs victory!”
“President Trump called me this morning to let me know how much he appreciates the amicus brief we're submitting on behalf of members of Congress. Indeed, ‘that's the big one!'” Mr. Johnson added within the hour.
The amicus brief, signed by 126 Republicans, revealed that more than half of the caucus was willing to oppose the results. Less than a month later, 140 Republicans dissented on the floor of the House on January 6, 2021 – before and after the violent assault on Congress and the peaceful transfer of power.
But the Supreme Court rejected the Texas lawsuit 7-2, holding that the state had no standing to sue.
Mr. Johnson has shared his frustration on several occasions, but continued to push the idea that “nobody knows how this is going to play out yet,” as he told KEEL News on the morning of Dec. 14 — the day the Electoral College vote ended .
Mr Johnson and 36 others shared a statement on the morning of January 6, 20201, arguing that “our extraordinary democracy has endured for nearly two and a half centuries based on the consent of the governed.”
“This consent is based on our people's confidence in the legitimacy of our governing institutions. Among our most fundamental institutions is the system of free and fair elections on which we rely, and any erosion in that foundation endangers the stability of our democracy,” they added.
“Who Can Appease Donald Trump?”
Representative Mike Johnson was elected Speaker of the House
On Wednesday, during his speech nominating Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries for speaker, Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar argued that the GOP is not interested in “growing the middle class, helping our communities maintain lower health care costs and make the lives of everyday Americans better,” when choosing a new speaker.
“This was about one thing, who can appease Donald Trump?” he said.
“House Republicans have put their names behind someone who has been described as the most important architect of the Electoral College objections,” Mr. Aguilar added. “He led the legal effort involving more than 100 of our colleagues across the aisle to support a dangerous and baseless lawsuit to overturn the results of the 2020 election.”
“On the eve of January 6th, some of my Republican colleagues even called it a failed strategy. However, the same people are planning to stand right next to him today,” he continued. “Democrats believe that when members of this chamber voted to reject the results of the 2020 election, they lost their ability to lead this chamber.”
The independent reached out to Mr. Johnson's office for comment.